The Executive Department of the State of Texas is made up of six people: the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Commissioner of the Office of General Land, and the Secretary of State. Under the Texas Constitution, the first five of these offices are filled by the voters. Only the last, the Secretary of State, is an office appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate.
The office of the Secretary of State is responsible for “ensuring the uniform application and interpretation of election laws throughout Texas,” and for “authenticat[ing] the publication of the laws, and keep[ing] a fair register of all official acts and proceedings of the Governor ….” Under Governor Perry, the Texas State Department was given the additional responsibility of Mexican affairs and Texas border security.
Through much of Texas history the Secretary of State has been a sort of highly paid secretary, and appointments to the non-critical office have often been a reward for political support. That may be part of the reason the position has been such a volatile one. Sam Houston had four different Secretaries of State in two years, and eight different people held the position (some more than once) from 1839 to 1841 under Governor Mirabeau Lamar. More recently, Governor Rick Perry appointed eight different Secretaries of State from 2001 to 2014.
But that may be changing. Governor Perry, as noted above, expanded the responsibility of the Texas Secretary of State to include duties one would normally expect a State Department to handle – like foreign relations.
Governor Abbott seems to be building on that beginning by appointing Carlos Cascos to the office of Texas Secretary of State. Carlos Humberto Cascos was born in MatamorosMexico 63 yeas ago. He emigrated to the United States as a child and became a United States citizen in his teens. Casco was a practicing CPA and had been a County Judge inCameron County since 2007 when Abbott tapped him for the Secretary of State position last November. Cascos was confirmed by the Texas Senate on 18 February 2015 and was sworn in 7 March.
Secretary Cascos hit the ground running. Less than two months after his inauguration, he was in Mexico City discussing Texas/Mexico trade and border problems. The new Secretary of State says he plans to visit Mexico far more often than his predecessors – at least twice a year. His stated mission is to shift the focus of the Texas State Department away from partisan political wrangling over voting issues towed a concentration on improving relations between Texas and Mexico and improving conditions on our southern border.
It’s refreshing to see a Secretary of State with a commitment to actually work toward improving Texas’ relations with foreign countries. And it’s encouraging to have a Governor with the vision to turn a political plum into a valuable asset to improve the lives and well being of Texans.
And I agree with Governor Abbott that Carlos Cascos is the right man for the job.